If you’re in your 30s, you probably remember the Cabbage Patch Dolls craze in the 1980s. People waited in lines for hours just for the privilege of buying one of these dolls. Stores couldn’t keep them on the shelves. Some people think it was the biggest marketing stunt of the 1980s.
The dolls were originally designed by a man named Xavier Roberts who lives in Georgia. In 1982, Roberts sold the mass production rights to the Coleco Toy Company. As you may recall, each Cabbage Patch doll came with its own name and date of birth, adoption papers, and birth certificate. Each doll was said to be unique (just a little bit different).
During the early years, it seemed Coleco couldn’t produce these dolls fast enough. Dolls were so rare at Christmas that some stores had to call the police just to control the crowd waiting in line for the dolls. Other stores decided to run lotteries to distribute the dolls fairly and avoid mob scenes. In 1985 Coleco reported a sales record of $ 600 million dollars thanks to the Cabbage Patch dolls.
Obviously, like most fads, the Cabbage Patch craze didn’t last long. Sales fell from $ 600 million in 1985 to just $ 250 million in 1986. There were resellers and speculators who were left with cabinets full of dolls that were suddenly not selling very well anymore. Then Coleco tried many things to revive the doll market by making dolls “do things” like talk. However, things went downhill from there and Coleco had to file for bankruptcy in 1988.
The Hasbro Company obtained the rights to produce the doll in 1989. Little by little they began to manufacture dolls for smaller children, which resulted in smaller dolls. Even though the Cabbage Patch dolls were one of the best selling dolls. Hasbro was never able to revitalize the Cabbage Patch market. In 1994 Mattel bought the rights to the doll.
Mattel still produces Cabbage Patch dolls. However, the dolls no longer have cloth bodies, they are still all vinyl dolls. Dolls are generally about 14 inches or smaller, and most of them come with a gimmick like swimming, eating, or brushing their teeth. Most of the Cabbage Patch dolls made by Mattel are still available from some mass market retailers like Toy’s R US. The price is generally less than $ 20.